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Doing nothing, non-action or not forcefully acting is one of Lao-Tzu’s well-known teachings. We mistakenly think this is akin to being lazy, and doing absolutely nothing. What Lao-Tzu means is that we should not do anything that is not in accordance with Tao. It means swimming with the tide, and not against it.
If a river has to cross a mountain, it goes around it, rather than blowing the mountain in pieces to carve out a path. There are always comfortable and natural ways of doing things that don’t disrupt anything else.
“The best rulers are those whose existence is merely known by the people. The next best are those who are loved and praised. The next are those who are feared. And the next are those who are despised."
“The Way of Heaven is to benefit others and not to injure. The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete."
“There is no calamity greater than lavish desires. There is no greater guilt than discontentment. And there is no greater disaster than greed. He who is contented with contentment is always contented."
Taoism observes that even the largest tree grows from a tiny shoot. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Patience is key to accomplish even the most insurmountable task, while taking steps in the right direction.
"To know that you do not know is the best. To pretend to know when you do not know is a disease."
"Thirty spokes make a wheel, but it is the empty center that makes it work."
“Difficult undertakings have always started with what is easy. And great undertakings have always started with what is small. Therefore the sage never strives for the great, And thereby the great is achieved."
Zero or the empty space has tremendous value in Taoism. Emptiness or Non-being is eternal, unknowable and intangible. Tao is also non-being, the hidden qualities and beauty of all living things.
Humans need to balance being with non-being, going after the deep, holistic qualities, as the superficial is not valuable after a short while.
According to Taoism, one must admit that there is a lot left to be known, and not try to dictate everything to others. One must give freedom to society to find its own rhythm and natural balance.
The people in power often commit this mistake and only think of increasing their power, profit and influence. Instead, they must work to do good for everyone.
Lao Tzu has said: "He who is contented is rich."
Taoism is not against desire but against the type of unhealthy desire driven by materialism and the accumulation of more and more wealth to appear successful than others. One can strive for goals and ambitions within one’s limits and avoid any destruction.
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